The principal types of polar coordinate systems are listed below.
A twodimensional coordinate system, defined by an origin, O, and a semiinfinite line L leading from this point. L is also called the polar axis. In terms of the Cartesian coordinate system, one usually picks O to be the origin (0,0) and L to be the positive xaxis (the right half of the xaxis).
A point P is then located by its distance from the origin and the angle between line L and OP, measured anticlockwise. The coordinates are typically denoted r and θ respectively: the point P is then (r, θ).
A threedimensional system which essentially extends circular polar coordinates by adding a third coordinate (usually denoted h) which measures the height of a point above the plane.
A point P is given as (r, θ, h). In terms of the Cartesian system:
(Also see spherical coordinates.)
This system is another way of extending the circular polar system to three dimensions, defined by a line in a plane and a line perpendicular to the plane. (The xaxis in the XY plane and the zaxis.)
For a point P, the distance coordinate is the distance OP, not the projection. It is sometimes notated r but often ρ (Greek letter rho) is used to emphasise that it is in general different to the r of cylindrical coordinates.
The remaining two coordinates are both angles: θ is the anticlockwise between the xaxis and the line OP', where P' is the projection of P in the XYaxis. The angle φ, measures the angle between the vertical line and the line OP.
In this system, a point is then given as (ρ, φ, θ).
Note that r = ρ only in the XY plane, that is when φ= π/2 or h=0.
See also:
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